"Staying power," or image longevity, for today's signshop products is crucial. We always say, "If it only lasted longer outside," or "Giclees need 100 plus years," or "If only it didn't scratch," and many more colorful phrases we can't publish. It all comes down to one thing: the finishing touch, laminating. A non-hazardous, liquid-laminate topcoating is a great alternative to other methods.
So you think you've overcome all digital-print-shop obstacles? You have the computer, the design software, the RIP and the printer(s), so you're ready to go, right?
Hmm, not exactly. There's more to consider if you want that print to have any kind of staying power. Perhaps you think you can make your money on prints rated only for indoors. There's still a fade factor to consider, regardless of where the prints end up.
Ask yourself what the customer expects for the print's life when you create a vehicle wrap, banner or sign. You probably wouldn't recommend a vehicle wrap to a customer if the printed image lasted only three months, for instance. Further, you wouldn't use a paper banner if the customer wanted to hang it outside for three years. To increase an image's longevity beyond the ink and media's limits, the print shop would laminate it.
We're sure you can understand lamination's importance for the signshop; now the "heavy" process of choosing the technology begins. Searching for the right laminator becomes very tenuous because you must fully understand your printer's ink type.
Is it aqueous, solvent or UV-curable, or maybe your signshop has more than one type?Advertisement
If you're looking at a sheet-fed laminator, the choice is critical. For instance, "hot" laminators most likely won't work with aqueous inks. Your choice would be a "cold" laminator.
What about size? Murphy's Law always comes into play just after you purchased that 42-in. laminator. Your next job would be 50 prints at 48 in. wide. Okay, you get the picture.
Lumina Coatings Intl. has a creative idea. It carries an entire line of liquid, topcoat products that work well in various environments. You can spray, roll or paint them without the worries of handling hazardous materials, nor the size of the finished project.
It even carries a line of roll coaters and dryers that works well in a high-end production environment. Another benefit to liquid laminates is, you can't ruin the print with wrinkles. Finally, the coating works on archival or giclee fine-art pieces.
Aqua Jetcoat II
The Aqua Jetcoat II (Fig. 1) advanced liquid laminate is designed as a topcoat for both solvent and waterbased inks. This laminate's properties include non-yellowing and clear drying for a crack-resistant finish. The top-of-the-line UV inhibitors allow this product to reign supreme in the 100+ years, UV-fade-resistance category. This fast-drying product, at 10 to 20 minutes at room temperature, is fully self-leveling with good surface adherence.Advertisement
If you apply this liquid laminate to a canvas material, it still looks like canvas. It can be applied to all water-resistant inkjet substrates, including canvas, watercolor papers, coated vinyl, photo paper and many others. This product is approved for fine-art museum placements. The finish choices are high gloss, satin and matte, available in 3.8L bottles, 18.9L pails and 205L drums.
For general application, the Aqua Jetcoat II works well using a brush, roller, paint sprayer and/or Lumina's rollcoaters for waterbased laminates. Apply the liquid laminate to dried prints only, or the results may be undesirable. Also, strain the liquid first, test the material substrate, and apply at temperatures between 60° F (15.5° C) and 90° F (32° C). When you're finished, just strain the leftover laminate back into the original container using a standard funnel-type strainer found at paint stores.
Lumina offers AquaCryl (Fig. 2), a product primarily designed for giclee or archival fine-art prints. The features are similar to the Aqua Jetcoat II, including 100+ years at 450 LUX indoor rating. It's fully self-leveling, with good adherence to surface details like canvas, and prevents micro-porous canvases from cracking.Advertisement
One application coat is suitable for most substrates, but two coats can be used for maximum protection. This product is also compatible with both solvent and waterbased inks.
The AquaCryl also works well between 60° F (15.5° C) and 90° F (32° C). The prints must be dry before laminate application. Canvas and fine-art papers require 48 hours of ink dry time. The brush and roller application is recommended only for canvas and textured paper applications. Smooth surfaces will require a spray, machine or rollcoater application for superior results. Use high-density foam brushes and short-nap (3mm) foam rollers or short-nap synthetic rollers for brush or roll applications.
For best results, apply a light coat followed by a normal coat. Of course, allow the coats to dry fully between applications. It's best to mount the print on a flat, horizontal, smooth surface in a clean environment prior to the brush or roll application. Let it dry at room temperature.
To expedite the dry and cure times, simply lower the humidity. Use the general principles for a spray application using the HVLP sprayers. The roll coaters are approved for waterbased laminates.
Lumina Coatings also offers a product for the new UV-curable inks called Aqua UV. This product provides an excellent, scratch-resistant topcoating for fleet-graphic applications. It's also a water cleanup product. The Aqua UV is designed to work with Lumina's UV roll-to-roll coaters.
It's extremely flexible, so the graphic will accommodate sharp angles and surface curves in a typical vehicle wrap, especially rivets. It provides a protective coat for all cast and calendered vinyl. An excellent choice for banner and textile materials, this product also works on solvent-based ink.
For any of the products we mentioned, Lamina Coatings' technical department continually tests many different materials and will assist you. Lumina's North America service/technical center also provides free testing of all inkjet media. The customer just has to pay for the shipping charges.
Lumina Coatings also carries a line of rollcoaters and conveyer dryers. The Lumina Pro Series rollcoaters are designed exclusively for applying Lumina liquid laminates on Lumina Pro Series media. The rollcoaters are available in 26-, 50- and 65-in. sizes. They are pre-set to apply Lumina liquid laminates on all flexible media, such as canvas, vinyl or fine-art paper. They are easy to operate and fully adjustable for the different thicknesses.
The Lumina Pro Series conveyor/dryers (Fig. 3) are primarily set up for commercial-quality, high-volume output. They're available in 24-, 48- and 72-in. widths with variable speeds that range from 0.5 to 15 ft./min. They're built to last using Teflon®-coated fiberglass conveyor belts, powdercoated steel frames and IR chassis with stainless-steel and aluminum rollers.
Lumina Coatings Intl. Inc. has designed a creative system of liquid laminates, which offers an excellent alternative to traditional lamination. You can't ruin the printed image. The liquid lamination works well in large or small shops. The user has a choice of brush, roll, spray or mechanical rollcoat. For the high-volume production house, available systems will meet their needs.
Lumina Coatings International Inc.
Camrose, Alberta, Canada
Fax: (866) 324-1505
Company Profile: LCI provides sales, service, technical assistance and full support to the worldwide distributors and end-users of all Lumina products, including liquid laminates, rollcoaters and conveyor/dryers.
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